Several models of superautomatic espresso machines feature a bi-pass doser which allows you to use pre-ground espresso to brew coffee without changing the beans in your hopper. Saeco and DeLonghi models allow a maximum of 1 tablespoon or scoop of pre-ground coffee per brew and Jura models allow up to 2 tablespoons or scoops. We occasionally run into situations where customers bring in a superauto for repair because they have used either pre-ground coffee that is too fine or they have used too much of it in the brewing, resulting in the development of a cement-like coffee clog on the brew group and the eventual break down of that group — either by breaking the gears or the group completely seizing up.
In this video, Gail talks to us about how much one should use in the bi-pass doser, as well as shows us an example of the fineness in ground that should be used, demonstrated on the Jura Ena 4.
What started out as pretty darn good in theory didn’t end up very nice in practice. Saeco’s attempt at an easy-to-use single boiler automatic, the Nina Bar, leaves much to be desired. We don’t love all the plastic, the low quality metal used in the portafilter (which doesn’t hold heat very well) or the steaming power. It’s nice, however, that you can program the shot timing and if you’re looking for something a little more stylized than the Aroma, you might dig the case and design.
Watch Gail as she goes over the Nina Bar’s features, pros, cons and demonstrates how to make a latte.
One of the most popular questions we receive on a regular basis is around keeping the grinder chute free of clogs. Often, people will clean the burrs regularly, but forget about the chute and they’ll have inconsistent grind results because of that. It’s pretty easy to keep this area clean — watch as Gail demonstrates how to take care of a few different models of burr grinders.
We’ve added a few more listings and reviews of several espresso machines to the Brown Bean Community.
If you own any of these machines, we’d love it if you could take the time to provide your own perspective on what you like and don’t like about it. We play around with and test them, but if you’re using one of these day-to-day, you have a much better feel for how it is to use this machine at home. Why not share those experiences with other coffee lovers looking for a machine?
Single and double boiler espresso machines can have greater temperature control if a PID is installed to more minutely manage the thermostat on the boiler. In this video, Gail talks about what a PID is and gives us the lowdown on why you might want one and how you can get one.
Looking for a superautomatic espresso machine without all the bells and whistles? Check out the Odea series by Saeco — a lower cost option that provides you with basic automation around shot extraction and the tools to get the rest of it done.
In this video, Gail talks to us about the Saeco Odea Go and Giro, discusses the differences between the two machines and demonstrates how to make a latte on the Giro.
We had a customer contact us over at Brown Bean, looking for some help with her newly purchased Starbucks Sirena. Well, since we can’t sell these fine ladies, we asked her if she’d bring it in so we could play around with it — and then we’d be able to help her!
Witness our first crew review video of a machine that we do not (and cannot!) carry. These machines were manufactured for Starbucks by Saeco, so we often see them in for a couple of issues during their warranty period. Watch as Gail discusses the machines features, talks about a couple of it’s easily fixed manufacturing defects and demonstrates making a latte.
Looking to soften your water a bit without completely removing the mineral content? Try out one of these in-take resin water softeners. Not only are they rechargeable, so they’ll last basically forever, but they easily fit on any machine that uses an intake tube to pull water from the reservoir into the machine — such as the Rancilio Silvia, any of the Quick Mill machines or the Saeco Aroma.
It’s not super sophisticated, but it will reduce the hardness of your water and, in turn, how fast it takes scale to build up in your boiler and related waterworks. You can recharge it by putting it in a glass with water with a few tablespoons of non-iodized and additive-free salt (like kosher) and let it hang out once a week.
If you’re in the market for a machine that kind of does it all, choosing which one is right for you can be a little bit tricky. We asked Gail to walk us through the superautomatics priced in the $899 – $1199 price range and in this video she discusses their features, similarities, pros and cons.
The Rancilio Silvia often gets a bad rap out in the world because a lot of people consider it to be finicky or temperamental. One of the biggest issues it has is its temperature inconsistency, but this is something that all single boiler espresso machines suffer from — including the Ascaso Dream and even the high end Quick Mill Alexia, will all have some temperature issues simply because you’re pulling water for two different processes from the same boiler.
Additionally, you have to be cognizant of the fact that these single boilers don’t have automatic boiler refills and you need to make sure you’re keeping the boiler full of water in order to maintain its health. If you’re not keeping it full, it will slowly burn out the heating element and you’ll have a costly repair on your hands. One sign that you’re not keeping enough water in the boiler is that you might be having steaming issues — it’s not steaming powerfully enough, or it starts out fine and then peters off, or it’s just not getting hot enough.
In this video, Gail talks to us about temperature surfing, demonstrates it on a Saeco Aroma and describes what can happen if you don’t do this each time you make yourself a latte on your single boiler espresso machine.